Monday, June 25, 2018

In Which a Pin Comes in Handy

It was our in-between Sunday and as usual we got up late. We were almost ready to sit at the table to have our breakfast when we heard a car drive in the lane. When we got up to see who it was we saw an elderly man who did a lot of taxi work for the Amish. Daddy went outside to see what he wanted. It wasn't long before we heard the car leave and Daddy came back inside. We immediately sensed that something was wrong. When Daddy said that Grandpa died we all started crying.

I didn't know this Grandpa all that well since we lived so far away, but I still wasn't prepared to hear that he had passed on. I had been working on a scrapbook for his birthday and now I would never get to give it to him. No one was hungry for breakfast anymore so Daddy hitched our horse to the buggy and went to see if he could find someone to take care of our chores while we went to the funeral. Mahlon wasn't quite two years old yet so they asked Grandpa Masts if they could take care of him till we got back.

By mid afternoon we had the suitcase packed and all the arrangements made and were ready to go. Our driver arrived in an old green clunker car. daddy sat in front and John, David, and I sat in the back with Mom. Once we got to Canada where the speed limit was posted by kilometers he got all excited and went speeding down the road. We passed everyone else and Daddy's explanation that kilometers and miles were different apparently didn't make any sense to the driver as we rushed on into the night.

Once we got to Grandpa's house a few men came out of the house to welcome us inside. As was customary, several families had volunteered to take turns to sit up all night until after the funeral. We were shown to a room where we settled down and slept the rest of the night.

When morning arrived we had breakfast with Grandma. There were lots of neighboring women and girls there cleaning the house and cooking and baking in preparation of the funeral. After we were done eating we sat in the living room where there were rows of chairs and benches set up. Since we were family we got to sit on the chairs close to Grandma. Other families from neighboring churches stopped by for a few hours to share their condolences and sit and visit quietly for a few hours. I had never been so bored in my life as the day dragged by.

Finally by evening Daddy's other siblings started arriving and all the cousins arrived with them. Our parents gave us permission to sit together. It was much more fun to have someone our own age to talk to. The next day we were still sitting in the living room and by now we children were all getting fidgety and so when our parents gave us permission we all went outside to play. We had so much fun that it didn't seem possible that everyone was gathered for a sad reason.

The day of the funeral arrived. As buggies started pouring in the driveway and lots of sober faced women and children dressed all in black made their way to the house I wished I would be young enough to sit with Mom and Daddy like John and David were doing. There was an older man telling everyone where to sit and when it was finally time for the grandchildren to sit down I wasn't very pleased to see I was sitting right behind cousin John.

Cousin John was big and enjoyed nothing as much as being mean to younger children. I always tried to keep my distance from him. I comforted myself with the thought that he would surely not try anything during services.

As the first minister stood up and started preaching cousin John shifted back until he was sitting on my knees. I squirmed and he sat forward a little. It wasn't long before he was on my knees again. His sister was sitting beside me, nudged him and hissed "Behave yourself!" He sat back even farther to annoy her, so she leaned over and told me to use a pin and stick it into him. he overheard and sat forward, but I prepared myself. I removed a pin from my apron belt and held it ready. The next time he would sit on my lap there would be a surprise waiting for him.

It didn't take long. As he shifted back I held the pin firmly and felt triumphant when he jumped forward. His parents happened to see the disturbance and his Dad made him go sit beside him for the rest of the services so my victory was even better.

Once services were over and everyone filed past the casket we all headed in a long procession of buggies that made their way slowly to the little graveyard. The horses walked the whole way and I thought we would never get there. Once everything was over we headed back to the house where the women from the community had prepared a big meal. It seemed nice to have everyone talking and visiting in normal tones once again. Once we were done eating it was time for us to go home again. We said good-bye to Grandma and the rest of the aunts, uncles, and cousins and started on our long trip home.


  1. What a wonderful story. I love your blog.

  2. I guess your cousin John learned a lesson that day!

  3. It's interesting how each religion has their own rituals, but really, they are much the same. Show honor to the departed. I was in third grade when my grandmother died and it was a very sad time for me. There were no cousins, as my Dad was an only child. Still, we honored her in our own way.
    I too love your Blog!

  4. This is a great story. Thanks for sharing it with your readers.

  5. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog!

  6. Sometimes you just have to play the game of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey".

  7. Did John ever come back to you with your pin pricking?

  8. Love the pin poking. My brother in high school many, many years ago had a teacher who would come up and slap him really hard on the back every single day. So him and his friends devised a plan and put thumb tacks through a sheet of paper, taped it to my brothers back and when the teacher slapped him hard he got a handful of tacks in his hand...haha! The teacher NEVER did it again to anyone.


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